Military Policing and Ethics

Welcome to the Military Policing and Justice Ethics Blog. This new feature of is specifically designed to provide a forum where members of the profession can address the contemporary issues of the day. This blog is hosted by Liz Cass. Her professional experience includes twenty years of service as a law enforcement and security professional with United States Navy. Liz’s academic achievement include a baccalaureate degree in fraud investigation, a Master of Science in criminal justice, and an MBA from Norwich University. She is a prolific author and her writings have been published in the Virginia College Journal of Law and Justice, the Justice Academy Journal, and she serves as a member of the Board of Governors. You can email her with your comments at


5 thoughts on “Military Policing and Ethics”

  1. PTSD

    PTSD in the field isn’t becoming more prevalent,
    it’s just being talked about more. Everyone that
    has ever served in the military or other high risk
    job such as police and fire have suffered the effects
    of PTSD at some point or another. Some handle
    it better than others and for some it is a daily struggle
    trying to unsee and unfeel what we’ve encountered
    on the job. Some compartmentalize and deal with
    the trauma in their own time; some can’t help it as
    hits them when they least expect it. Part of learning
    to deal with PTSD, I have found, is recognizing the
    triggers and using those triggers to your advantage
    on the job.

    I think most of what helps me keep mine in check
    is keeping things in perspective. True, no one wants
    to have to discharge their firearm on the job; sometimes
    it is necessary in the order of self defense. None of us
    like killing another individual but sometimes it just
    happens. Keeping that in perspective of what it
    actually is I think helps others deal with the issue.
    Loud noises can also trigger some that have served
    in the military but if they learn to distinguish those
    noises it can help deal with them. So many of those
    that are in these high stress jobs do not go through
    any type of trauma training prior to entering the field
    or in the case of military heading overseas for
    assignment or deployment. These days some inner
    city work can be as bad as overseas assignments.

    I think some type of trauma training should be done
    in academies and military branches to prepare these
    individuals what may or may not be encountered
    while on the job – it may actually help them deal with
    it better in the long run, and perhaps head off the
    PTSD before it truly starts.

  2. Military personnel are trained to be disciplined and
    have great work ethic. When military members leave
    the military some will gravitate towards law
    enforcement or some other form of public service.
    There are so many similarities between the two;
    most military members have stood security or fire
    watch at some point, and have an attitude that
    employers find appealing. All military members
    will have some degree of small arms proficiency,
    which also makes them much easier to hire for
    police, sheriff, and/or private security companies.

    Military may also gravitate towards this line of work
    because they understand the structure that goes
    along with the wearing of a uniform and being a
    part of a team so it is an easy transition from
    military to civilian sector. They don’t have to be
    monitored as closely as someone just entering into
    the field for the first time because they have
    already had some degree of training. There is also
    a level of comfort for military-types when entering
    this type of employment because so many are also
    prior military so there is a solidarity that is shared
    and understood.

  3. Situational Awareness

    Being in the technical age, we are now a nation of smart
    phones that constantly require our attention. People
    no longer have conversations at dinner table; everyone
    is too busy checking phones for messages from work,
    school, friends, family, etc. While at times these actions
    are necessary, most times they can be a safety hazard.
    We’ve all seem the newspaper articles about traffic
    accidents on the rise because someone was texting
    or checking messages on their phone. This is getting
    to be quite dangerous in that no one is truly aware of
    their surroundings. They are oblivious to the imminent
    dangers around them. Sad to say, we are also in the age of
    heightened terrorist activity and people must be aware of what is going on around them, for the safety of themselves
    and their family.

    As Police Officers, we are trained to be aware of our
    surroundings 24/7; we never let our guard down. It is
    hard to put the phone down when we are so used to
    looking at it on a regular basis or constantly asked to
    look something up while on the job. Situational
    awareness is becoming quite an issue with people
    driving, people walking, just paying attention to their
    immediate surroundings. People crossing a busy street,
    not realizing the “Do Not Walk” sign is lit and they are
    busy with their phone and probably do not realize
    someone coming towards them in a vehicle may also be
    busy on their phone. Situational awareness is a huge
    safety issue both on and off the job. Being safe and being
    vigilant is something we must all strive for.

  4. Law Enforcement Liaison

    It is important for military police to have a good working
    relationship with the local, state, and federal law
    enforcement agencies. The majority of military bases are
    situated within city limits and while these agencies do
    have jurisdiction on the base, it is considered a professional
    courtesy to meet with the Security Officer once on base
    and explain their reason for being there. The dispatcher
    at the Public Safety Office on base usually gets a phone
    call prior to the officer arriving at the gate. Military
    Police (Navy) do not have the powers to arrest; only
    the power to detain until another agency takes those
    individual(s) into custody for questioning, depending on
    the charges, or if that individual is military, released to
    the individual’s superior.

    In order to have a good working relationship with the
    other agencies, one must be able to work effectively
    with those agencies and with the people within the
    agencies. Having a good relationship is important in
    that it will also give us access to these resources that
    other agencies can offer us. Being able to rely on them,
    and vice versa, sometimes made doing our jobs that much
    easier. We may have information they need and it is
    always in the best interest of public safety to share that

    When I was stationed in Portsmouth, VA., the back side
    of the base abutted a known drug area. Together with
    the Portsmouth PD and Virginia DEA they were able to
    finally bring down the crack house that they had under
    surveillance for months. We were able to train our
    facility cameras outward towards that area and were
    able to submit the footage as evidence.

  5. One of the reasons why I chose law enforcement while in the Navy was not only to Protect and Serve, but I was really tired of the corrupt LEOs I had already come into contact with during my first 10 years on active duty. I knew that I could make a difference and I chose to get actively involved. A very satisfying career that ended too quickly.

    The one mistake I’ve seen LEOs make is letting the badge go to their head. Being Law Enforcement means we have to be above reproach; all eyes watch us and those that enforce
    the laws should also be able to uphold the law. So many I’ve come into contact with thought they were above the law – only to have it catch up with them later. My advice to anyone
    entering law enforcement as a chosen field: make sure your record is spotless and always act within ethical means. Do your job right the first time and you won’t have to go back
    to make corrections.

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